Thursday, July 30, 2009

Afraid of a Little Work?

All right, so my book giveaway is not attracting very much interest. Judging by how many hits I've received in the last two days and how many interested commenters I had last time there was a chance at a prize, this means that it is unlikely the lack of comments is due to lack of interest. Apparently you are all just too lazy to come up with a joke to tell me.

So, if you would like to be entered in the drawing without having to come up with something funny, just leave me a comment on the original post. If, however, you can fight off the summer blahs long enough to tell me a lame knock-knock joke, I will put your name in the hat twice. More chances to win!

Honestly, the things I do for you people.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Contest Time Again!

Award-winning author Stephanie Black has a new book coming out in August, which means it's time for another "Life as an Adverb" drawing!

From the back cover:

It’s been three years since the terrible night Emily Ramsey suffered a double tragedy—the death of her sister and the disappearance of her fiancĂ©. She deserves another chance at happiness, and gentle, adorable Zach Sullivan is the perfect man to mend her shattered heart. But from the moment Emily opens the hand-carved box holding a glittering diamond solitaire, she’s seized by an unshakeable fear: she’s going to lose Zach.

That’s exactly what Monica, Zach’s ex-girlfriend, is banking on. Bitter with envy, Monica will stop at nothing to sabotage Zach and Emily’s romance. Troubling notes show up in Emily’s mailbox, fanning the flames of suspicion. A bloody photograph sends her reeling. But when someone is brutally murdered, will Emily be able to escape suspicion and the possibility that she might be next?

Whitney Award–winning author Stephanie Black treats readers to another of her brilliantly thrilling stories that will leave the reader no choice but to keep reading well past the stroke of midnight.

If you would like to win a copy of this book, personalized and autographed by the author, leave a comment on this post in which you tell me your favorite joke. If it's funny, I'll enter your name in the drawing. If not, well, you should have thought of that before you submitted the "two lemons were in the shower" joke (ahem, Evil HR Lady).

You have until August 7th to enter for a chance to win!

Oh, and the midnight thing is totally true, so don't start reading this book unless you intend to stay up late!

The World is My Canvas

I love to draw. Especially on myself and walls, and all the other things my mom tells me I can't write on. She says, "You can only draw on paper, Michael," but then when I tried to take a crayon to her scriptures she went back on her paper rule and said I could only draw on paper she gives me. Moms are so hard to figure out sometimes.

I just can't see what the big deal is about drawing on walls. There is so much empty white space - perfect for one of my art projects! Mom says I'm lucky that Mr. Clean invented Magic Erasers, otherwise she might have to ship me off to boarding school. I don't know what boarding school is, but maybe they would let me draw on the walls there, so that would be fun.

A few days ago she actually let me take off my clothes and play with paint and potato stamps. I thought the potatoes were to eat, but then she showed me how to dip them in paint and stamp them on paper. It was so awesome! I made sure to get the paint all over myself, too, because if I get really dirty she'll let me take a bath, and I love to splash water all over the floor.

Mom even bought me my very own pair of scissors. She calls them "safety scissors", and I like them, but I still think her pointy scissors are more fun, especially to run with. I just love to cut up paper, and it's fun to see what else I can cut, like carpet and furniture, and my shirt. Mom gets really mad when I try to cut other things, though. Silly Mommy. I just like to experiment.

I'm already thinking of what I want to do for my next art project and it's going to be so cool! I would tell you what it is, but I know my mom reads this blog and I don't want her to find out. (I would hate to ruin the surprise).

If only I could get my hands on some markers...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh, Yes, You Can Help It

Out of late-night, tax-widowed boredom, I watched a biography of Natasha Richardson, whom I developed a particular fondness for after viewing her warm portrayal of the mom in Disney's newer version of "The Parent Trap" (which is oh, so much better than the original, by the way). She seemed like a nice woman, the sort of person whom you would be happy to be seated next to on an airplane if you were experiencing weather delays.

But something she said irritated me (and it's something I've heard many times before): "You can't help who you fall in love with."

I'm sorry, but in the words of Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp: "Oh, yes, you can help it. You must help it."

I'm not sure how the idea has persisted that love is this accidental thing which decides to flit down to the earth every once in awhile and rest on some unsuspecting soul's shoulder. Just how is love something that can come about without a person having to give full consent to its development? I mean, I can understand an attraction between two people as being the sort of thing that "just happens", but love? Love is a choice, not an unavoidable destiny.

And besides that, the oops-I-fell-in-love-and-didn't-mean-to thing is just silly. Falling in love is about as accidental as teenagers having sex in the backseat of a car. In other words, it's not. (I'm sorry, but no matter how many girls say, "we didn't mean to", if you take the time and effort to configure your body into the circus positions required for a backseat rendezvous, you meant to. You really meant to).

If you can't help who you fall in love with, I suppose we should all be checking over our shoulders to make sure Cupid doesn't have his arrow pointed at us at an inopportune time or when we're with the wrong person. But no matter how ridiculous the idea of being stalked by a diapered cherub may sound, is it any less ridiculous that people really believe they are so incapable of controlling their feelings that they can't avoid falling in love with someone, even if that puts them on a path to an affair or divorce?

Well, perhaps this little I-can't-help-it excuse is the reason why so many people end up getting divorced these days. I mean, how many times have you heard someone say, "I just don't love my husband anymore" as if it were a completely random, unfortunate turn of events that has no remedy? Does anyone ever say, "I just don't love my children anymore?" No. No one "falls out of love" with their children (though I suppose there are many jerks out there who don't care about them in the first place or just don't want the responsibility any longer), so why can't the same be said for love between married couples?

Well, it may have something to do with the fact that most people spend a lot of time sacrificing for and serving their children - something they often forget to do for their spouse. And you simply can't care for another human being day in and day out without that service nurturing your love for them.

Love may be a lot of things, but accidental is certainly not one of them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Grandma Curse Hits. Literally.

When I was a kid my mom would often fall asleep while reading me a story. Like most children, I did not understand the desire or need for a nap, so I would remedy this situation by smacking her: "Mom, wake up!!!" I just couldn't understand how someone could be tired enough to doze off in the middle of "Miss Nelson is Missing".

Then I became an adult and just knew that my little slapping tendency was going to come back to haunt me in a Grandma Curse kind of way. But, as Michael has never had the patience for a full story (too busy flipping the pages and looking for windows to slide and flaps to lift up), it hasn't been much of an issue.

But lately, he has started having almost enough patience to sit for a full story. So we've been reading "Curious George" (which I love, but wonder why I am reading to my rambunctious destructo-boy). Yesterday we snuggled up under the covers with a stack of books to read, and by the time we got to see what mischief George had found himself in that day, the words on the page started to blur and I found myself stumbling over simple sentences.

The next thing I knew, Michael was whacking me over the head with a plastic ball.

So I would just like to take this opportunity to say, Mom, I'm sorry I never let you have that nap you needed.

Though, in my case, it's probably better that Michael did whack me out of my slumber. You can't trust that kid unsupervised in the same house with a toilet brush and a fridge.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Random Thoughts

How is it that you can look in a mirror and think you look pretty good, but when you look at a photograph of yourself you suddenly realize what disgustingly fat arms you have?

When did "healthy" become "healthful"? Is there a difference? Or is one just meant to sound more organic and snooty?

Can't hot dog and hot dog bun manufacturers coordinate so there are the same number of hot dogs and buns in packages?

The combination of rice and two-year-olds is why you should never have carpet under the dining room table.

I am finally starting to realize that I should stop assuming all adults will behave like adults. It seems some people can never get past child mode.

How does anyone survive without kitchen shears? Honestly.

It's too bad we no longer have that societal politeness that would require a gentleman to give up his seat if someone else were in need. Now we just have laws about seats on trains and buses being made available for disabled persons and all the seated men ignore me when I get on a train with a two-year-old on my hip.

You know you've been eating too much cereal for dinner when you have a cupboard full of plates and forks and not a single bowl or spoon that is clean.

What is it about a freshly made bed that encourages a kid to mess it up?

Friday, July 17, 2009

How Old Is Too Old?

The world's oldest mom, a woman who gave birth to twins at age 66, has died at 69, leaving behind two-year-old twin boys (who are now orphans, as they have no father).

Maria del Carmen Bousada lied to a fertility clinic about her age, telling them she was 55, which was their maximum age for attempting fertility treatment. She told a newspaper, "I think everyone should become a mother at the right time for them. Often circumstances put you between a rock and a hard place, and maybe things shouldn't have been done in the way they were done, but that was the only way to achieve the thing I had always dreamed of, and I did it."

It's so good to know that she felt the achievement of this little dream of hers justified all the lying and deception.

While she admitted that she was old as far as new mothers go, she acted under the delusion that she might live to be the age of her own mother, and even be around for grandchildren. (Just call her a cockeyed optimist). But if she had even taken two seconds to think about it, she would have realized that if she had a baby at 66, odds were that she would end up leaving behind a very young child. Which she did - two of them, who don't even have a father to rely on.

It is wrong and disturbing that women of such advanced ages are seeking fertility treatment, especially when there are no husbands in the picture. Bringing children into the world knowing full well you probably won't be around to care for them, and deliberately depriving them of any sort of father figure in the process, is just despicable. Yes, younger parents are not immune to death, but the odds are exponentially higher that a 70-year-old woman will kick the bucket than that her 35-year-old counterpart will have an early departure. And even if a 70-year-old manages to survive through the teenage years of her children, it may be in a wheelchair and diapers, which is no way to reign in a rambunctious adolescent.

But this hasn't stopped other women from trying to follow in Ms. Bousada's footsteps. Jenny Brown, who is 72, is so determined to become pregnant that she is pursuing her seventh round of IVF in hopes of becoming the world's oldest mother. She also uses the pathetic argument that a woman can die at any age, and so sees nothing wrong with trying to have a child (to whom she would undoubtedly be mistaken as being a great-grandmother).

Frankly, I don't think anyone should be allowed to pursue fertility treatment past menopause (though I don't include in that group women with premature ovarian failure). There is a reason women in their fifties should not be having children, and menopause is Mother Nature's way of saying, "Time's up!"

These women should be ashamed of themselves, and so should the doctors who assist them in this quest. This is an abuse of fertility treatment, not to mention the abuse of any children resulting from it.

Sixty or seventy is not just "too old", it's decades too old. So it seems a bit ironic that what these women really need to do is grow up.


I found this Bingo card in an old email my sister had sent and had to laugh out loud when I discovered that less than 12 hours with Michael had produced a blackout.

Do I win a prize for that?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Give Me the Drugs!

I am not one of those women who thinks that men cannot have any valid opinions about pain relief during childbirth simply because of their Y chromosomes, though anyone who tries to tell me that labor pain is God's punishment for Eve taking the first bite of the apple, or worse, that labor pain is psychological and that it's not in God's plan for a woman to have an epidural (I actually know of a man who believed this nonsense and would not allow his wife to have any pain relief during labor, even when she was becoming hysterical from the pain) deserves a swift kick in the behind (or perhaps some other sensitive area). But I would certainly take the advice and wishes of my husband and my doctor into account. And then I would do whatever I darn well please, because ain't nobody going to get between me and my epidural, if that's what I want.

But, there are consequences to pain relief during labor, or so says Dr. Denis Walsh, associate professor of midwifery at Nottingham University. And no, they aren't the usual things you've heard about, like harmful effects on the infant or extended recovery time. Dr. Walsh says labor pain "prepares a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby" and that it is a "rite of passage" and "a purposeful, useful thing". According to him, you won't bond as well with your infant if you cave in to the drugs, so suck it up, ladies, and push that watermelon out medication-free!

I'm so glad my inability to bond with Michael has finally been explained! I mean, not only did I get an evil epidural, I ended hours and hours of labor with a c-section and lived on percocet and naproxen afterwards. It's no wonder I don't like my son.

Gah! It's a good thing I do not know this man in person, because I'm not sure I would be able to stop myself from slapping him.

Certainly labor pain serves a purpose; so does pain when a dentist drills into your tooth. But that doesn't mean it's necessary to have root canal work done without anesthetic. And as I am a research freak when it comes to things like childbirth, I've read plenty and know plenty about the pros and cons of drug-free delivery. The fact is that this isn't the dark ages of childbirth anymore. Doctors don't knock out mothers as their babies are crowning or load them up on dangerous medications anymore. Epidurals have been proven safe for mother and baby. And any idiot professor who tries to tell me I won't bond as well with my baby if I opt for pain relief during labor better have a huge stack of very persuasive research right behind him, otherwise he would be wise to shut up.

Come on, labor pain is necessary to prepare a mother for the responsibility of nurturing her newborn? Give me a break! As if she hasn't been nurturing it for the last nine months? Buying clothes, preparing the nursery, reading baby books and obsessing over every little thing she puts in her mouth?

I will bond with any children I may have just fine, thank you, with or without the drugs.

But if you try to stand in my way of getting an epidural, you better watch out for a flying bedpan!

It's Official: Women Have Lost Their Marbles

It seems like a no-brainer: having a husband/father to help take care of family makes life a whole lot simpler. Two hands are better than one, divide the sorrows, multiply the joys and all that jazz. But apparently, I am in the minority when thinking that husbands equal good things.

Which just goes to show that it's official: Women have lost their marbles.

A recent survey by Babytalk Magazine found that most women (whether married or single) think taking care of a family would be easier sans husband. To which I respond, scientifically, "What the crap?!"

76% of these women think it would be easier not to have to fight with a partner over raising a child. 69% think it would be nice not to have the "chore" of keeping up a healthy marriage. And a full two-thirds of the respondents think it would be harder to parent with a man in the house.

I'm sorry, but are these women on crack? They think single-parenthood would be easier than a joint venture? So instead of having two people to provide for and take care of a family, it would be easier to do everything themselves?

Since when did a little compromise and understanding toward a spouse become so difficult that the stress and responsibility of single-parenthood became preferable? And why is marriage suddenly considered such detestable "work" that no one realizes how much fun it can be?

The irony of this survey is that the responses are rooted in selfishness. Women think it would be easier not to have to take another person's needs/opinions/concerns into account. But, if they shared family responsibilities with someone else they would actually have more time to take care of their selfish desires than they would if they were doing everything on their own. I mean, here I am, blogging at 9 a.m. because David is busy slaving away at work to provide for us. I could never do that if I were off breadwinning myself, and then coming home to a messy house, whiny child, and a mile-long chore list afterwards.

Obviously divorce, stepchildren, ex-spouses, and unreasonable in-laws make navigating marital difficulties more daunting, and perhaps that's why many of these women find themselves in such a snit over the imperfect behavior and neediness of their husbands all the time.

But I'm just not sure why these ladies feel such a need to play the role of martyr that they'll shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly as they hop away from the people who could help them the most: their husbands.

This blindness to personal stupidity is so ubelievable it would be ridiculous, if it weren't such a tragedy. As it is, it is truly cause to mourn.

The Balloon Speaks

Sometimes I think of Michael as being like a balloon I lost control of as it was inflating, and as such he is in a continual state of spurting around the room in erratic, uncatchable circles. So it is a bit of a challenge to get him to focus on regular tasks without him running off into a corner for a mid-chore giggle fest.

This happened again recently, for the umpteenth time, as I was trying to get his jammies on and convince him he was ready for bed. He ran off, laughing, and then turned, looked directly at me, and said, "Get your booty back here!" pointing his finger at me in a no-nonsense gesture.

Hmmm... somehow that phrase doesn't seem quite as innocuous when you hear it spouted back at you by a two-year-old mouth.

At least we're over the phrase where "Uh-oh" became "Crap!" after my rather pathetic performance on the Wii Fit taught Michael how to "properly" use the word.


But hey, next to "crap", "booty" sounds absolutely fine.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fourth of July Weekend

David and I reached our goal! No, it's not weight-loss related. (Don't you read my blog? Can't you sense the loathing of exercise dripping from each post I write?) We have now done every single thing we hoped to do while living in New York City, having checked off the last two items (visit Governors Island and enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks) this weekend. I guess this means we can go home now. Except we have tickets for "West Side Story" tomorrow night, and I really don't want to miss that.

In spite of the constant threat of insta-thunderstorms (they come out of nowhere and nearly drown you), we managed to have a lot of fun this weekend, only getting drenched three or four times (much to the embarrassment of our useless umbrellas). David had the day off on Friday, so we ventured to Governors Island - 172 acres off the southern tip of Manhattan brimming with old military buildings and houses, all completely empty since the 1960s. It was the perfect place for a bike ride, a picnic lunch, and a little ghost-town exploration.

It was a bit bizarre to wander around an abandoned community so close to Manhattan. There's almost a feeling that the people who lived there evaporated in some sort of alien-led disaster. But the lawns are maintained and the buildings are still in good shape, and it's a great place for a peaceful view of the city.

As for the rest of our holiday weekend, our Independence Day celebration consisted of us wishing for our barbecue back home and finally settling for pan-fried hamburgers and a bag of Doritos. Then we headed out to claim a spot on 12th Avenue to view the fireworks. While a hard street is not quite as forgiving as the soft grass of the National Mall, the 75 degree temperature and light breeze made the wait absolutely pleasant. Michael was fairly easily contained with a supply of treats and games and a little girl (who was equal parts annoying and useful) seated next to us, who took a fancy to Michael and inserted herself into our family activities for a couple of hours.

The fireworks made our usual Capitol Fourth look positively small-town by comparison. Five barges were lined up along the Hudson River, each throwing off blasts of matching fireworks. Each individual boat produced the scope of the national show, so it really was five times bigger and better. Though, I will say, there is still nothing like sitting in front of the Washington Monument and watching fireworks explode over the reflecting pool.

Michael was impressed by the spectacle, ("Whoaaa! Big stars!") but a little uneasy about the noise echoing down the streets. By the end he had snuggled himself into David's shoulder and only raised his head for a particularly large "Oooooh" or "Aaaaah" from the crowd.

It was a wonderful weekend, and one that made me very grateful for all the blessings that come from living in America. God Bless the USA!

Which is More Stupid - The Question or the Questioner?

Recently, as Michael and I sat in a subway station awaiting our train, we were approached by a twenty-something black man who asked, "How can you live with yourself, being a white woman?"

"I'm sorry, what?" I replied, not sure I had dug my post-shower q-tips deep enough into my ear canals that morning.

"I just don't know how you can live with yourself as a white person," he said. "If I was a white person, I would be filled with so much guilt I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

Yeah, it's a wonder I was able to drag my guilty white behind to the train station that morning. And I told him so, more or less: "Get over yourself," I said. And then I rolled my eyes at him and stepped on my train, dooming some other fair-skinned person to be pestered by the man.

This sort of thing just irritates me. This man was young, clean, able-bodied, and healthy-looking. He was well-dressed and wore expensive athletic shoes. And yet, he obviously harbored some sort of picked-on complex that compelled him to approach a woman in a subway station and inform her that she should feel guilty about the color of her skin.

Martin Luther King would be pleased.

I may be a pampered white female, but come on, this is America. If you are being held back by "the man", start checking your mirror to see if you've handcuffed yourself to his ankle.

And try giving up your seat on the subway once in awhile. That might be nice, too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Recipe for Future Therapy

I have four rules when it comes to naming children:

1. It must be immediately obvious how the name is pronounced when you look at the spelling.
2. Most people should be able to spell the name correctly without having to ask how it is spelled.
3. The name should easily translate to the child's future adulthood. Naming your December-born baby "Jingle" may seem cute when she is born, but it will not be cute when she is a college graduate trying to land a serious job in the corporate world.
4. The name should make it immediately obvious whether the child is a boy or a girl.

I realize that not everyone feels the need to comply to my baby-naming rules, and I recognize that while I am ultra-traditional when it comes to bestowing a lifelong label on an infant, some people are into the trendy and cutesy and weirdly spelled names. But at least most people aren't as bad as this Swedish couple, who decided not only to refer to their child by a non-gender-specific name, they decided not to refer to it as being a specific gender at all. So two-year-old "Pop" is not a him or a her, wears dresses and "masculine" pants and alternates between girly and manly haircuts. Only a few close relatives (i.e., those who have changed the child's diaper) know whether Pop is actually a boy or a girl.

You see, Pop's parents, in an attempt to be the most "progressively" stupid people on the face of the planet, want their child to "grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset." Says Pop's mother, "It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead."

Um, lady, what about that blue or pink stamp a little farther south, if you know what I mean?

Whether this poor child's parents like it or not, he/she is a boy or a girl, as evidenced by his accompanying parts. No amount of silly secrecy or gender-neutral clothing is going to change that. The idea that gender is an artificial result of socialization is just ridiculous, and frankly, dangerous. Obviously genetics and hormones play a role as to whether your child will have the typical male/female likes and dislikes (and it's not a bad thing if your little boy likes barbies or your little girl is into monster trucks - let them play with things they enjoy), but the fact is that God created everyone before they were born as either male or female. Gender is not a choose-your-own adventure thing, and these parents are going to irreversibly damage their child by confusing him/her about his identity and purpose in life.

But, at least this child will have a companion in his lonely and confusing life. Pop's parents are due to have another child soon, and intend to be just as idiotic when it comes to their new arrival.

These poor children. Who is going to pay for their therapy bills?